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    Seasonal Care of Peonies .     

WINTER CARE OF PEONIES                                                                                                          

Winter protection is only necessary the first year and will prevent the soil from heaving.  Mounding the soil over the crown area is the usual method.  Any organic material that doesn't break down quickly will also do.  Remove the covering before growth starts in the spring.  Protection is very beneficial in extremely cold climates-where temperatures drop to 20 below zero for extended periods.  Winter protection will help save many plants; this is especially true where there isn't any snow covering.

SPRING CARE OF PEONIES

     WEEDING-Should begin as early as possible-as soon as the soil can be worked.  Keep well away from the crowns-to avoid breaking the tender new growth. weeding should be often enough to keep the weeds down and the soil well-aerated.  Do not dig too deeply around the plant-two or three inches is enough near the plants.  It may be deeper in the center between the plants. If you are uncertain as to where the new growth will appear, it is best not to work around the plant, until you can see the new shoots.  Weeding should continue all season.

     FERTILIZING-If your soil was properly enriched at planting time there will be little need for additional fertilizer for several years.  Keep all fertilizer well away from the crowns.  There are no feeder roots there, and excess organic material could cause crown rot.  Spread your fertilizer where the roots grow-6 to 18 inches out from the crown. Use fertilizer with discretion and mix it into the soil thoroughly.  Plants over-fertilized do not bloom well.  An application of 1/2 cup per plant of low nitrogen fertilizer such as 5-10-10 is a good amount.  If manure is used it should be well rotted and care should be taken that is doesn't sit over the crowns.  We apply fertilizer once when the new shoots break through the ground, and once just after the flowers are finished blooming.

     DISEASE CONTROL-To prevent diseases such as botrytis, routine spraying should be practiced. A copper sulfate or similar product should be used.  The first spraying should be done when the plants first break through the soil.  It should be repeated when they are about half grown and again just before they bloom.  To prevent leaf spot they should be sprayed several times after blooming.

     CUT FLOWERS-Do not remove more than 1/3 of the stems as this would seriously weaken the plant.

 

SUMMER CARE OF PEONIES

     WATERING-Peonies need a great deal of water when they first come up and through the flowering cycle; and again when they are making eyes for next years growth.  Their needs are usually met with spring rains.  However, some watering continues into the early summer.  If the season is especially dry and the peonies wilt from lack of moisture it is wise to give them a thorough soaking.  Water to the bottom of the root system, and repeat when the soil becomes dry.  Do not sprinkle water on shallowly as this does little good.  They will endure dry weather very well .  Even though the plants die back prematurely, they will usually come back again the next year and grow as well as ever.

FALL CARE OF PEONIES

     CUTTING BACK-Some time after September, the tops of herbaceous peonies should be cut back to the ground.   All foliage and stems should be disposed of, preferably by burning, to lessen the chance of disease carrying over into next years growth.  NEVER cut them down completely right after flowering ; as this will cause the eventual death of the plant.        


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